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Looming Prairie blizzard prompts school closures, cancelled flights, NHL game

An early winter storm with heavy wet snow caused fallen trees, many on cars, and power lines in Winnipeg on Oct. 11, 2019. School, flights and even an NHL game have been cancelled in part of the Prairies as people prepare for a blizzard that Environment Canada says could be the worst in decades. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

WINNIPEG — School, flights and even an NHL hockey game have been cancelled in part of the Prairies as people prepare for a storm that Environment Canada says could be the "worst blizzard in decades."

The weather agency says 30 to 50 centimetres of snow is expected to fall in southeastern Saskatchewan and most of southern Manitoba by Friday, with accompanying winds of up to 70 km/h.

RCMP say it will close all major highways in southern Manitoba around midnight or when it begins to snow and warns that first responders may not be able to help travellers who become stranded or need help.

WestJet has proactively cancelled all scheduled flights to and from Winnipeg and Brandon on Wednesday in anticipation of the storm, which is expected to hit overnight Tuesday.

The Winnipeg Jets also postponed their Wednesday home game against the Seattle Kraken.

A school division serving southeastern Saskatchewan has closed its schools for the week, with the province advising residents in the area to pack a 72-hour emergency kit that includes food, water and a flashlight.

All Winnipeg school divisions announced they are cancelling school bus transportation for Wednesday and Thursday in anticipation of bad road conditions.

An Environment Canada blizzard warning issued Tuesday for the area of Portage la Prairie, Man., advised people not to travel.

"This storm has the potential to be the worst blizzard in decades. Stock up on needed supplies and medications now. Power outages are likely, rural areas, in particular, should be prepared for extended outages."

Henri Dagenais, chief meteorologist with the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, agreed a snowstorm so big hasn't hit the Prairies since the early 1980s.

"Climatologically, this type of storm happens once every 30 years," Dagenais said Tuesday.

The agency also advised people to refill prescriptions and avoid travelling in the days ahead. SaskPower added it has crews and materials on standby for downed power lines and widespread outages.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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